Governments threaten to kill off Amazon gTLDs

11-04-2013

Governments threaten to kill off Amazon gTLDs

Government representatives warned Amazon on Thursday that four of its generic top-level domain (gTLD) bids – including .amazon – may be rejected for being problematic.

The Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) issued advice to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which is expected to follow a consensus GAC decision unless it provides a rationale for not doing so.

In its communiqué, delivered on the final day of ICANN’s Beijing public meeting, the GAC provided consensus advice on .africa (one of two bids) and .gcc (for Middle Eastern Internet users), in effect killing them off.

There was no explanation, but GAC advice is reserved for bids seen as being sensitive or violating national laws. Additionally, the GAC has asked ICANN to examine .islam and .halal, Islamic terms that it says are potentially sensitive and “lack community involvement and support”.

Turning to 14 applications – including .amazon, its corresponding bids in Chinese and Japanese alphabets, and .yun – the GAC warned that “further consideration may be warranted”, including at ICANN’s next meeting in Durban in July. The GAC has told ICANN to hold the applications once they have been evaluated.

Amazon applied for scores of new gTLDs, including .kindle and .app, some of which were internationalised domain names (IDNs) – those in non-Latin scripts. The Internet retailer is the only applicant for .amazon (and the Chinese and Japanese versions) but is competing for .yun with a Chinese company called Qihoo 360.

Of these four bids, .yun is the only one not to receive a community objection, which can be filed when the gTLD is substantially opposed by a significant portion of the community that it targets. Some governments in South America are known to be unhappy about the .amazon gTLD, although ICANN’s independent objector filed the community objections.

The remaining 14 problematic bids cover generic, geographic, community and IDN interests. Aside from .amazon, the only other branded bid is .patagonia, which the Argentinean foreign ministry objected to. Patagonia (gTLD applicant) is a clothing company but is also a region in South America, shared by Argentina and Chile.

In its communiqué, the GAC has not explained why the applications are problematic, but the outstanding objections – handled by the International Chamber of Commerce – may provide some insight into its thinking.

It is strongly presumed that ICANN follows consensus decisions (such as .africa and .gcc) but if Amazon’s applications (and others) receive non-consensus advice, the company will have more leeway to rectify any perceived problems or persuade ICANN to ignore the GAC. The latest GAC warning, however, means Amazon can expect to face delays to at least four of its applications.

governmental advisory committee, gac, icann, gtlds, amazon